The Tiananmen Square Massacre

Question: To what extent did the Tiananmen Square Massacre affect United States-Chinese relations from 1989-1999.

Plan of Investigation:

The investigation assesses to what extent did the Tiananmen Square Massacre affect United States- Chinese relations from 1989-1999. In order to evaluate the effects of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the investigation will analyze the United States-Chinese relations during the 1980s and after the Tiananmen Square from 1989-1999. Historical accounts, statistical trade data, and in-depth analyses are used to determine the impact the Tiananmen Square Massacre had. Two sources used in this essay, "Why a bamboo curtain has fallen on relations between US and China"written by Peter Grier and "The making of China policy sinceTiananmen written by Kerry Dumbaugh, are then evaluated for their origins, purposes, values, and limitations.

This investigation does not asses the direct impact of the Tiananmen Square on the relationship between the Chinese citizen and government; however it will discuss how citizens of the United States did impact United States- Chinese relations.

Summary of Evidence:

During the 1980s, reformers were in charge and the United States-Chinese relations were soundly intact. Before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, President George Bush had to deal with China repressing the Tibetan independence movement that had occurred. The United States had never recognized the sovereignty of Tibet which left it to brutal occupation by China. President Bush's actions regarding the Tibetan Independence movement would serve as pretext for what would happen in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.[1]

The Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 caused a great problem in the United States' policy towards China. President Bush along with the National Security Council staff took the lead in establishing the United States-Chinese policy. Bush attempted to maintain a fair balance in United States' policy in the wake of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Bush was less concerned with human rights and more concerned with the strategic importance of China to the United States.[2] President Bush's initial response, however, was to suspend all government sales and commercial exportation of weapons to China.[3] While doing so, President Bush also reassured to the Chinese that US-Chinese relations were unaffected. Bush's National Security advisor even said "Friends Forever when toasting with Chinese leaders in Beijing after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However this would be seen as an untruthful statement due to President Bush vetoing a bill saying that no Chinese student in the United States would ever be deported back to the home land.[4]

By 1991 people were recognizing the drastic changes in commerce due to severed relationship between the United States and China. In the face of new export restrictions that took place in 1990, the United States trade deficit with China had shot over $10 billion, third only to the deficits with Japan and Taiwan. In addition, the only hope for political change in China laid in economic growth. The greatest pressure for reform occurred in the coastal areas of China, where outside investments were abundant and income was increasing. To have cut off trade with China would and did seriously damage those areas and the very reformers we sought to help. Harvard Prof. Sam Huntington said "The most significant factor behind the emergence of political freedom was that they first lifted themselves up economically.[5]

By 1995, the United States-Chinese relations had fallen to their lowest point since the Tiananmen Square Massacre itself. The United States was furious over Beijing's detention of an American human-rights activist, and was also concerned about China selling of medium-range missiles to the country of Pakistan.[6] The debate in Congress was whether public opinion or China's human rights record should affect the United States' economic interests or trade relations with China. Congresswoman Karen McCarthy spoke of how China affected domestic industry and business when she said, "...China means jobs, revenue and business."[7]

During June of 1998, President Clinton made a trip to China to show Americans that China had beyond the Tiananmen Square which had occurred nine years prior. He hoped to achieve this by talking with villagers, praying with fellow Christians, exchanging views with students and business leaders. However, Clinton faced open criticism because members of the Senate wanted results not rhetoric. [8] The American public continued to view China through a "Tiananmen Square filter.[9] Most Americans viewed the Chinese government as oppressive. The percent of people who viewed China as doing a poor job in respecting human rights remained at sixty-nine percent in 1997 and 1999. This proves that President Clinton's Good will tour did little to persuade Americans that China has changed.[10] President Clinton wished during June of 1999 to extend normal trading policies with China, trade that would be free of tariffs that had choked off commerce in the past.[11]

Evaluation of Sources:

What happened on the Night of June is a cable dispatched to the White House by United States Embassy in Beijing on June 22, 1989. This purpose of this dispatch was to correct the reports by western media. It tells of how most of the deaths associated with the government crackdown on public protesters occurred on Changan Avenue and other streets surrounding the square, rather than on Tiananmen Square itself. This cable dispatched to the White House can be seen as a valuable source when trying to analyze the United States-Chinese relations from 1989-1999. This source gives eye-witness accounts that add a first-person perspective on the horrible events. Since this cable includes eye-witness accounts, this cable can be seen as biased or opinionated rather than factual because they could be heavily based on their dislike of the Chinese government. Many of the diplomats that were working in the United States Embassy in Beijing were disillusioned with the Chinese government due to their communistic policies and what they saw as unfair treatment of their citizens.

"Reconsidering United States policy toward China in the post-Tiananmen era was written by Frederick Yen-Ching Chen and published by the Harvard International Review. The purpose of this article was to examine the United States' policy toward China, after the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989, speculations on Sino-American relationships in 1990s, determination of policy in China, and China's relationship with the Soviet Union. Different from other articles, this article tells of how and why the policies toward China were developed after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However, this article is limited in that Chen was a staunch democrat and his depiction of Bush's policy could be seen as more opinionated because of his partisan views.

Analysis:

The Tiananmen Square Massacre had a direct impact on the United States-Chinese relations from 1989-1999. However, the question has been raised was the Tiananmen Square Massacre the only factor in determining how the United States viewed China. Also it has been questioned whether or not the government was the sole source in helping establish the precedent in dealing with China. Historians Jonathan Spence and Carma Hilton, have argued that the Tibetan independence movement being repressed by the Chinese government played a role in how the United States governments acted in response to the Tiananmen Square massacre.[12] In addition, it has been questioned by Historian Fred Wakemen of how much influence humane societies has on the government's actions in making legislation against the Chinese government has been disputed.

During the 1980s, reformers were in charge and the United States had a good diplomatic relationship with China. Before the Tiananmen Square Massacre, President George H.W. Bush had to deal with China repressing the Tibetan independence movement that occurred. While the Chinese repression of Tibet during the Tibetan independence movement was occurring, the United States wasn't recognizing the sovereignty of Tibet. President Bush's actions regarding the Tibetan Independence movement would serve as pretext for what would happen in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.[13] The Chinese killed millions of Tibetans through warfare, execution and famine. This act of violence was very similar to that of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. As a result of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, President George H.W Bush suspended all commercial exports of weapons to China. However, he maintained to the Chinese that US-Chinese relations were unaffected.[14]

In response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, President George H.W Bush operated under the misunderstanding that he was less concerned with human rights and more concerned with the strategic importance of China to the United States.[15] The American economy took a drastic hit due to the actions taken in response to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In the face of new export restrictions that took place in 1990, the United States trade deficit with China had shot over $10 billion, third only to the deficits with Japan and Taiwan. [16] The restrictions however weren't only the brainchild of the United States Federal Government but humane societies who were appalled by the events that took place during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. TheAmericanpeople, media, interest groups, and U.S. legislators place a strong emphasis on morality, values and "national interest" inAmericanforeignpolicy. [17] One of the many reasons for the anti-China policies was the inhumane killing of Chinese citizens during the peaceful protest at Tiananmen Square. Citizens of the United States could not accept this horrible treatment of people. This mistreatment of the peaceful protesters and the imprisonment of an American humanitarian mobilized American humane societies. These societies placed pressure on members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to make sure that political action was taken against China. Due to this political pressure, legislation was passed in order to restrict trade with China.[18]

The United States relations with China between the time period of 1989-1999 were definitely impacted by other forces besides the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The repression of the citizens of Tibet by the Chinese government was a determining factor in how the United States would deal with China after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Also, George H.W Bush wasn't the only influence on the government's decision in dealing with China. American humane societies played a major role in shaping legislation with dealing with foreign policy in regards to China.

Conclusion:

The Tiananmen Square Massacre that occurred on June 2, 1989 had a direct impact on relations between the United States and America from directly after the incident till Bill Clinton reopened the United States to China. Relations between the two countries had already been severed due to the Chinese brutality that occurred during the Tibetan independence movement. American humanitarians and humane societies strongly disapproved of the mistreatment of the Tibetan citizens and this served as precursor for how they would react to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre, humanitarians and humane societies placed political pressure on the federal government to forbid trade with China. Due to their actions, US-Chinese relations would be almost destroyed. This severed relationship drastically impacted the economy of the United States which led Bill Clinton to try to reconcile the relationship that once was. Bill Clinton's diplomacy reopened China to the United States and ended the time of separation that was caused by the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

[1] "TIANANMEN SQUARED."New Republic204.18 (06 May 1991): 7-8

[2] Sutter, Robert G. "American policy toward Beijing, 1989-1990

[3] Sutter, Robert G. "American policy toward Beijing, 1989-1990

[4] "TIANANMEN SQUARED."New Republic204.18 (06 May 1991): 7-8

[5] Gergen, D. "Let's not cut off China." U.S. News & World Report 27 May 1991

[6] Grier, Peter. "Why a bamboo curtain has fallen on relations between US and China. (cover story)."Christian Science Monitor

[7] Tien, Charles, and James A. Nathan.. "AMERICAN AMBIVALENCE TOWARD CHINA."

[8] Kiefer, Francine. "Clinton tries to breach great wall of US doubt."

[9] Tien, Charles, and James A. Nathan.. "AMERICAN AMBIVALENCE TOWARD CHINA."

[10] Tien, Charles, and James A. Nathan.. "AMERICAN AMBIVALENCE TOWARD CHINA."

[11] "Tiananmen and Trade."Christian Science Monitor04 June 1999:

[12] "TIANANMEN SQUARED."New Republic204.18 (06 May 1991): 7-8

[13] "TIANANMEN SQUARED."New Republic204.18 (06 May 1991): 7-8

[14] Sutter, Robert G. "American policy toward Beijing, 1989-1990

[15] Sutter, Robert G. "American policy toward Beijing, 1989-1990

[16] Gergen, D. "Let's not cut off China." U.S. News & World Report 27 May 1991

[17] Sutter, Robert G. "American policy toward Beijing, 1989-1990

[18] Chen, Frederick Yen-C "ReconsideringUSpolicytowardChina in the post-Tiananmen era

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